For years the prevailing word on the street is that the customer comes first or the customer is always right. As a customer in these streets I know that's bullshit. Corporate brands created us in their image of entitled monsters with money. Now you, the solopreneur, are expected to live up to that same standard of crazy. You're told to brand based on a customer persona. The insult added to that injury are famous folx convincing you ,you are your brand. The must be right otherwise they would be rich, right?
Well I'm calling bullshit on the whole shebang because when it comes to solopreneurship, the solopreneur comes first.
Yeah, I said it and I meant it. This is not clickbait. Putting the customer first is a toxic bottom line tactic for corporate giants. It is the bases for unhealthy company cultures where employees are sometimes sacrificed to appease the dick with a dollar. It's created by companies who pimp themselves because the only thing that matters is the money.
When you start a business to have a positive impact on society at large, I'm telling you to put yourself first. You are not your brand, but your personal brand becomes part of the brand architecture you're building. I don't mean this in a selfish way. I mean this in a healthy life, brand, and business way. It falls more in line with being the change you want to see in the world.
My clients leave corporate culture for various reasons. What's usually at the core of it is no longer wanting to be part of a bigger problem. The bigger problem can look like an overworked and under appreciated workforce. It can look like finding a more sustainable way to operate a business. It can look like valuing people without sacrificing profit. That's not something you brand for a customer persona. That's something you brand for change. Yes, this bullshit needs to stop.
BTW bullshit is the word of the day.
"Stress, anxiety and depression are caused when we are living to please others.” – Paulo Coelho
Solopreneurs aren't made to people pleasers
So what about being first? The prevailing rule of thumb in branding is that your brand is what they say it is, what they say when you're not in the room. (insert WOD) It's no wonder folx worry, have imposter syndrome, and feel salesy. Putting the customer first makes you bat shit crazy. On one hand, you're told to people pleaser, on the other you're told to differentiate. WTF? So I'm guessing they want you to please the people differently. There's only so many tricks in a ho bag people.
I love my clients, I really do, but that's because we chose each other. One of the perks of running your own business should be liking the people you do business with. I would never discriminate based on the usual suspects, but I damn sure would for ass holery. People think they're supposed to have their way because they came outta pocket. (insert WOD)
As hard as I go in on some of my clients I have mad respect for them. They've decided something in the world needs fixing and they're the ones to do it. Their brand strategies are structured so they attract the kind of clients that fit their most confident, competent self. It doesn't make sense to build a low key brand when you're a high energy person. That is misalignment that will get you canceled these days. Hell, cancel my ass cause I probably wasn't talking to you anyway.
“Do yourself a favor; don’t wear yourself out trying to please everybody. Your time is too valuable.” – Joel Osteen
Solopreneurs don't let others dictate your money
Yes, the love of money is the root of all evil. Nevertheless, money runs the world and the way you price your offers determines how you live, brand, and do business in that world. You are a solopreneur, a business of one, so you have to price like it. The only people who will complain about your price are the ones who don't see the value of what you offer.
When folx come at you with money in hand they damn near treat it like a weapon instead of the tool that it is. All day, every day folx buy things because it's endorsed by a celebrity. The celebrity is paid to convince you that it's valuable. You on the other hand are required to justify your price, again, because the customer doesn't see the value.
Just like you, folx will pay what they wanna pay even when they technically can't afford it. You see it every day. Big businesses found away to tap into the emotional triggers that make you do this. That is branding and even though I know it, I'm not immune, and neither are your clients.
As a solopreneur your personal brand establishes the brand equity your business brand will grow from. You don't become a premium brand by using royal colors and gold accents. You increase brand equity. Think back to your younger days when you saw someone across the room looking all tasty. You wanted to sop them off a plate with a biscuit. But, oh when you got a closer look, you realized what you needed was a doggy treat. That's what premium branding with no equity looks like.
We've all heard the recent sound bite of the price is the price. You're saying this because you're dealing with bargain hunters. Say it with me. That's some (insert WOD) A price without value is just a number.
“I gotta stop treating people like I owe them something.” – Tupac Shakur
Solopreneurs don't let you tell 'em how to get the job done
I remember in my restaurant days folx would come in and have all sorts of advice about how to make our restaurant better. My favorite were the vegetarians. Bitch, I'm a bbq restaurant with a tagline that says, Real. Good. Meat. Kick rocks. Then there were the low sodium folx who tell you how to season your food. OMG.
So you build a brand around a customer persona and now they wanna tell you how to run yo shit. A solopreneur can't do this because they would have to change for every single person they serve. This is a money chasing problem. Now when it comes time to market your brand, which bitching customer do you want coming back through your doors?
Solopreneur success depends on you showing up as the expert and authority of that thing, not the doormat. Your most important client is the one who is attracted to what you have to offer and how you offer it. Anything short of that is taking control away from you and giving it to someone else. If you don't have what they want then allow them to find someone who does. HELL, refer them to someone else.
Your current status is a business of one. That means you're exclusive and maybe pricey. That does not mean you have to cater to folx you don't want to be bothered with. When you attract the right folx you're more likely to roll out the red carpet than roll your eyes. What you accept the wrong folx you open yourself to someone who thinks they're your boss, bitches about your price, and feels entitled enough to ask you to change.
At this level it's not about them right
Branding like a solopreneur is stepping up as a brand leader. Even my solopreneur journey arose out of wanting to impact the 5-year failure rate statistic. I was emotionally impacted and saw the fragility of independent business when the pandemic took hold. Independent businesses were drop'n like flies. How easily that could have been me if Neil hadn't agreed to close our business. I don't think our breakfast spot would have survived.
I know it's hard to stand your ground when you're broke. But tuck this away for later. If you don't stand your ground now, you'll be afraid to fire their ass later. And if you are afraid to fire a client, then you've just turned your business into a job.
Brandma's House exist to keep you out of a job and stop the (insert WOD). Book a chat when you're ready to brand like a solopreneur.
That's all for now brandbabies. Smooches
Ghetto Country Brandmother®
author - speaker - HBIC
Certified Brand Strategist, Business & Life Coach with a degree in Business. She is also a former bbq restaurant owner & certified bbq judge.
She is making it her personal mission to connect the dots of life, brand & business one brandbaby™ at a time.